Friday 24 January 2020

End of the road for Halton Transport

Halton 14, a 2010 Alexander Dennis Enviro200 at St George's Place, Liverpool

Another council controlled bus company is expected to cease trading today. Halton Transport is owned by Widnes council and prior to 1974 it was known as Widnes Corporation Transport. As of 24th January the business is due to close, and 24 of Halton's buses are reportedly being moved to the Gilmoss garage of Stagecoach on Friday night.

The demise of Halton Transport will leave just eight former municipal bus operators in business, Blackpool, Cardiff, Ipswich, Lothian, Newport, Nottingham, Reading and Warrington.

Halton 7, a 2008 Alexander Dennis Enviro200 with MCV Evolution body

Halton 31, a 2002 Dennis Dart SPD with Marshall Capital body

Halton 37, a 2003 Dennis Dart SPD with East Lancs Myllenium body

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Northern's New Electrics

331 002 & 018 passing Cottam Hall playing fields in Poulton-le-Fylde on 3rd January

Northern's brand new Class 331 Civity electric EMUs are now settling down into regular service on the Blackpool North to Manchester Airport and Hazel Grove routes. The new trains are built by Spanish manufacturer CAF (Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles) in 3 and 4 car sets, with the Blackpool line appearing to mainly use the three car sets (Class 331/0). The new trains are very impressive, with a well laid out interior and a good turn of acceleration, they are also very quiet inside from a passenger viewpoint.

The old order, 319 386 near Blackpool North in July 2018

Manchester bound 331 016 at Poulton-le-Fylde with no destination displayed

331 014 stopping at Poulton-le-Fylde on a service to Blackpool North

The interior of 331 007 showing door the free access between carriages

The interior of 331 007 showing plentiful tables and information screens

Six car set 331 007 & 005 at Piccadilly on a train from Blackpool North on 16th January

331 007 & 005 departing Piccadilly on a Blackpool to Manchester Airport train

331 010 at Piccadilly on the Blackpool North to Hazel Grove service

331 006 crossing Castlefield Viaduct in Manchester on a train to Hazel Grove

Sunday 19 January 2020

First Heritage Gold Weekend of 2020

Brush Car 621 at Anchorsholme crossing on Saturday morning

The first winter Heritage Gold event of 2020 took place over the weekend of 18th & 19th January, with six trams scheduled to run in service each day. On Saturday the six car output consisted of duty A: Brush 621, duty B: Balloon 700, duty C: Balloon 715, duty D: Centenary 642, duty E: Railcoach 680 and duty F: Balloon 723, in the event Brush Car 621 failed south of Anchorsholme crossing in the morning, and was replaced in service during the afternoon by Brush 631. On Sunday the six trams in use were duty A: Balloon 701, duty B: Railcoach 631, duty C: Balloon 718, duty D: Standard 147, duty E: Centenary 641 and duty F: Balloon 715.

Balloon 723 entering service at Manchester Square on Saturday

Balloon 715 at the Tower on Sunday afternoon

Brush 631 and Flexity 011 at the Imperial Hotel on Saturday

Balloon 701 northbound on the Golden Mile on Sunday

Railcoach 680 at Manchester Square on Saturday afternoon

Centenary 642 at Central Pier on Saturday

Balloon 700 heading north at Central Pier on Saturday

Balloon 718 heading north past the Tower on Sunday

Standard 147 on a Cleveleys service on Sunday afternoon

Centenary 648 at Pleasant Street on Sunday afternoon

Saturday 18 January 2020

Brush 621 fails on the first 2020 Heritage Gold weekend

Balloon 723 towing demic Brush Car 621 back to Rigby Road depot

Brush Car 621 was rostered as the first Heritage Tour tram to run to Fleetwood on Saturday 18th January, during the first Winter Gold event of the year. On the return journey from Fleetwood to Starr Gate, 621 unfortunately failed while ascending the incline from Anchorsholme to Little Bispham. Northbound Balloon 723 came to the rescue and towed the stricken 621 back to Rigby Road tram depot. Balloon 723 was uncoupled from 621 in Hopton Road, and the Brush Car was towed into the depot by Boat 227. Balloon 723 re-entered service shortly afterwards, and Brush Car 631 replaced demic 621 on the afternoon Heritage Tours.

Balloon 723 towing Brush 621 into Hopton Road

Balloon 723 towing Brush 621 near Foxhall Square

Boat 227 towing 621 along Hopton Road into the depot

Friday 3 January 2020

Class 37s visit Blackpool

37259 passing Cottam Hall playing fields in Poulton on the rear of the train

A Derby based Network Rail track inspection train visited Blackpool on 3rd January. The train (181X) was scheduled to depart from Blackpool North at 1413 heading back to Derby, and was top and tailed by DRS 37059 and 37259.

37059 with the Network Rail track inspection train approaching Poulton

DRS 37059 on the Network Rail test train at Poulton-le-Fylde